‘Cats drop third straight game to NEU, UConn

Bret Belden

By Justin Loring, Sports Editor

Cameron Johnson/STAFF Meg Flatley recorded one assist versus Northeastern on Sunday.
Cameron Johnson/STAFF
Meg Flatley recorded one assist versus Northeastern on Sunday.

The UNH field hockey team suffered two losses at the hands of Northeastern on Sunday and No. 2-ranked Connecticut on Friday afternoon. The Wildcats are in the midst of a three-game skid, having also lost last week to No. 12 Stanford in overtime. UNH’s record now falls to 1-5.

The Wildcats traveled to Boston for an afternoon match, where they fell to Northeastern by a score of 3-2. The Wildcats started the game well, leading 1-0 at halftime, but surrendered a late game-winning goal with just 2:19 left in the contest.

Jackie Hozza tallied assists on both goals, which were her first career points. Lindsey Nerbonne recorded the first goal of the game at 28:06 off a corner shot by Hozza. Nerbonne got her stick in the shooting lane and deflected the ball past goalkeeper Becky Garner. Meg Flatley (2g, 2a) was credited with an assist on the play, tying her with Nerbonne (3g, 0a) for the team lead in points with six.

In the second half, NEU scored two goals in less than three minutes apart to take the lead from the Wildcats. At 48:24, Kelly Dunn scored first for Northeastern and Vanessa Pryor recorded her first goal of the year in the 52nd minute to give her team a 2-1 edge.

The Wildcats managed to answer with just 5:11 left in the game off the stick of Lynn Lehman. Hozza had the initial shot on net, which was stopped by Garner, but Lehman corralled the rebound and buried it for her first goal of the season.

Kate Carlson gave Northeaster the lead for good with just 2:11 remaining in the game. Carlie Tarbell was able to make a save on the first corner opportunity, but the Huskies were awarded a second one and converted the game-winner.

“We did a great job of putting offensive pressure on them,” UNH head coach Robin Balducci said. “We had the possession, the corners and the shots but didn’t put enough on goal to be threatening. Their last two goals, both on corners, were very well set up.”

On Friday, the Wildcats faced their most challenging opponent of the season. UConn is the defending national champion and proved why with three first-half goals to beat UNH 3-0. UConn started the game quickly, peppering Tarbell with seven shots in the first five minutes, but UNH was able to hold off the initial attack.

UNH struggled early on to gain possession and were unable to cross midfield with the ball until about six minutes had gone by in the half. UConn’s aggressive midfield attack forced UNH into double teams and turnovers when they tried passing in the middle of the field. Off those turnovers, Connecticut was able to use its team speed to create offensive looks and force UNH to chase with their midfielders and forwards.

UConn scored the first goal of the game at 20:45 when backer Anna Middendorf ripped a shot inside the right post off a penalty corner. The pass from the corner found Roisin Upton at the top of the arc, who drew a defender towards her to open up space for Middendorf. Middendorf took two steps inside the arc and her shot beat Tarbell low on her left side for her third goal of the season.

Eight minutes later, UConn added another tally, this one coming off the stick of Chloe Hunnable. Charlotte Veitner had initial possession of the ball, driving along the baseline into the UNH arc. Veitner’s shot was turned aside by a diving Tarbell, but Hunnable was able to clean up the rebound and give Connecticut a 2-0 advantage with seven minutes to play in the half.

The third and final goal came from Veitner in the 33rd minute, this time on a rising shot that beat Tarbell inside the post. At the half, UConn held an 11-1 advantage in shots.

UNH managed a few bright spots on the day, earning more corners than UConn (6-4) and only being outshot 4-3 in the second half.

“I think holding them to zero corners in the second half and controlling the play, creating some opportunities is something we’re going to take [moving forward],” Balducci said. “I thought we got four to five quality opportunities to score. That’s where we are this early in the season, not finishing, and against UConn, if you don’t finish, it’s tough to come back against a team like that. They’re that good.”

For the Wildcats, it’s their worst start to season (1-5) since 2006, when they finished the season 3-15. UNH will try to rebound this weekend when they travel to Providence on Friday, then faceoff on Sunday at home against Hofstra.

Information from staff reports were used in this story.